Likewise

Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 4:54 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 3 (Select vv. ESV).

Pure Conduct (vv. 1-6)

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

I am a woman, and I have been married to my husband for 45 years now, so these words speak to my heart. We wives are to be subject to our husbands. We are to yield to their authority, be secondary to them in rule and authority in the household, and we are to be their assistants (partners, helpers). We are not to be head over them. Yet, we are not to subject ourselves to or to be partners with what is sinful, i.e. we are to obey God above all else and to respectfully decline any invitations to sin against God. We should never let our husbands lead us into sin, in other words, and then use “submission to spouse” as an excuse to willfully sin against God.

Our behavior should always be pure and respectful, both to God and to our husbands. We should set an example before our husbands, and before all people, of what it means to live pure and holy lives, pleasing to God. Yet, does this mean that we are never to say anything to our husbands about their conduct? I believe the implication is that the husband, in this case, is not a believer in Jesus Christ, and it is also in the context of the woman being in subjection to her husband, and not lording it over her husband. It also appears that the husband did hear the Word (the gospel) preached, but that he rejected it, so the wife should not try to pound the gospel into her husband through words, but rather to live the gospel before him, which would have a greater effect on him than her preaching it to him.

But, this is not to say that wives must live in absolute silence with their husbands, or that a wife cannot lovingly approach her husband with concerns over inappropriate conduct, or that if her husband is a believer, but he is going astray, that she cannot lovingly speak to him in hopes that he might be deterred from error. There are many passages of scripture, with regard to the body of Christ, that teach us to speak the truth in love to one another so that we might be brought to maturity in Christ, and which speak of what to do if a fellow believer is being led into sin or is caught in a sin, and also regarding what it means to love someone with the love of Christ. It is not loving to see a believer being led into sin and to say nothing. Also, if the wife is the helper, there are times when she does need to speak out.

As far as our outward adornment (beautification) is concerned, it should not be what is gaudy (loud, flashy, tasteless) or sensual. It should not be what attracts people to our bodies, especially, but it should be simple, discerning and modest. We especially do not want to adorn ourselves outwardly in such a way that we might knowingly lead men to lust after us, so we should always dress ourselves in such a way that is appropriate for women who profess Christ as Savior and who want to live holy and godly lives. For, what we want to show to others is the righteousness of God in our hearts, which comes not merely through our words, but through our reverent, submissive and humble attitudes and behaviors.

Honor the Woman (v. 7)

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Even though these instructions to husbands are few in words, they “pack a punch,” i.e. these few words are capable of having a powerful effect on the lives of the husbands who take these few words to heart.

Husbands are to live with their wives in an understanding way, via applied knowledge. So, what specific knowledge or understanding is implied here? I believe the “likewise” in both the instructions to the wives and to the husbands refers back to the words spoken at the end of chapter 2, which speak of suffering unjustly, responding in love, and following Christ’s example of humility and holy conduct, especially in the face of unjust suffering. We read there that Jesus “himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24). Husbands and wives, who profess faith in Jesus Christ, should live as Christ lived, following his example, and should die to sin and live to righteousness, and then we will live with each other as God intended.

This brings to mind the instructions to husbands in Ephesians 5:25-33 where it says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” In this way a husband is living with his wife in an understanding way, with applied knowledge, by following the Biblical instructions on how he is to live with and love his wife. And, this is a “tall order,” yet God can give them all that they need to do and to live this.

Husbands are to honor their wives. If they love them as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her, they will honor their wives. So, how should they honor them? First and foremost, I believe, is by keeping their marriage vows to them, and by not going after “other lovers,” whether through viewing pornography, or via romantic or sexual relationships with other women or men, or by being “married” to their jobs, hobbies, sports or whatever else may have their hearts, passions and desires above God and above their spouses. Secondly, they honor their wives by treating them with decency, dignity, respect, and value, and by showing regard for their thoughts, beliefs and feelings, and by valuing their opinions or input in decision-making. Bottom line – love them like Jesus loves them, and you won’t go wrong. And, in this way, your prayers will also not be hindered.

Kindred Love (vv. 8-12)

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For

“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

All of us, whether wives or husbands or singles (unmarried) or children, if we are in Christ, through faith in him, should have unity of mind, but with what mind? Whose mind? We should have unity (harmony, agreement) with the mind of Christ, not with the mind of humans. Too many humans are pushing unity, but it is not unity with God, with his purposes, with his Word and with his will and his ways, but it is solidarity with the thinking of humans and with humanistic philosophy, and it is a blending in with the world. So, when we hear the word “unity,” even within the church, we must be cautious and discerning with regard to what we are essentially unifying with. Be aware! The beast wants unity, too, only with him. Know the difference!

If we, as followers of Christ, do have unity of the Spirit of God with one another, then we will also have sympathy, kindred love, tender hearts and humble minds, especially in regards to how we treat one another. We will not want to exact revenge on others who we believe have harmed us in some way, but we will love them, forgive them, and we will want to help them, if possible, to be right in their relationships with the Lord. We will not slander others, or speak hateful words against them, in order to cause them harm, but we will speak the truth in love to them, in hopes that we might turn a sinner from his or her sinful ways. Yet, seeking peace should never be at the cost of compromise of the truth, of the gospel message, or of our testimonies and lifestyles, which are to be given over to our Lord in submission to his will. Seek peace, but never compromise with evil!

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

 

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Show Integrity

Saturday, September 9, 2017, 4:56 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Titus 2:1-14 (ESV).

Sound in Doctrine (v. 1)

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Not all of us are teachers, in a formal sense of the word, but we all teach something each day by our lifestyles, words, attitudes and actions, for good or for bad. For, we ought to all have people whose lives we influence, because we should, if possible, have some human contact each day. Also, for us who are followers of Jesus Christ, we are to be the light of Christ to a dark world, the salt of the earth, and to proclaim the excellencies of HIM who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. As well, we are to go and make disciples of people of all nations, baptizing, and teaching them to obey all things Jesus commanded (Matt. 5:13-16; 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 2:9).

Since we are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, to proclaim the excellencies of Christ, and to make disciples of people of all nations, we need to make certain that what we are proclaiming is sound in doctrine, i.e. that it is the truth, and not twisted truth or half-truths designed to make people feel good in their sin. So, what is doctrine? “Doctrine, then, is scriptural teaching on theological truths” (1), i.e. scriptural (biblical) truths. “According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God (2). I like that one!

Sound doctrine, essentially, is the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). It makes no compromise with the world in order to make nice with the world, but it presents the truths of scripture according to the context in which they were written, for the purpose for which they were written. In other words, it does not pull scriptures out of context to support a particular chosen belief while ignoring the bulk of teaching in the Bible on that same subject (or subjects).

Too many people stubbornly hold on to particular beliefs, even though the bulk of scripture speaks the opposite, or even if, in comparing scripture with scripture, we are able to see that a particular held belief is not fully supported in scripture, and thus we must form our beliefs based upon all teachings on that subject, and not just the ones that support our beliefs. It would behoove all of us to be good students of the Word of God, not to support preconceived beliefs, but to find truth, and then to live the truth.

Sound in Faith (vv. 2-6)

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.

What does it mean to be “sound” in faith? It means to be complete, thorough, unblemished, unadulterated (unmixed) and firm (secure), without wavering. It means we are no longer like children being tossed here and there by every wave of teaching, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (See: Eph. 4:11-24). It means we first know the truth, are certain that what we believe is truth, and then we stand on what we believe, but not just in theology or doctrine, but in practice, day in and day out, no matter the circumstances, and no matter who we are with at the time. We don’t blend in with the world to be accepted, and we don’t compromise our faith to not be rejected or persecuted. And, it means we walk (in lifestyle) no longer after the flesh, but according to the Holy Spirit.

Although this section of scripture deals with particular groups of people, for the most part what is instructed to these specific groups applies to all who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ. We should all be serious-minded about our walks of faith in Jesus Christ. Too many people take God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God’s Word all too lightly, and do not take them to heart, to make God and His Word a reality in their daily lives. This doesn’t mean we go around with frowns on our faces all day long or that we never laugh or smile. Serious-minded is not to be equated with grumpy and downcast. We can have the joy of the Lord in our hearts and smile and laugh (appropriately) and still be serious about God and His Word.

We are all to be steadfast (unwavering, constant) in our faith, reverent (respectful) in our behavior, not slanderers, and not addicted to strong drink, drugs, or anything else which might cause us to lose self-control. Self-control has as its basis Holy Spirit control, for self-control is one of the characteristic traits of the fruit of the Spirit, which is to be seen (exercised) in our lives, as followers of Christ. We, too, are all to teach what is good, i.e. what is spiritually healthy and what is God’s best for us, not the junk that is being passed off as the gospel today which is intended to appease the flesh and gain customers for big businesses called “church.” And, all of us are to be submissive to God and, in reverence for God, also to one another, which includes wives being in submission to their husbands. But, not one of us should ever submit ourselves to sinning against God.

Be a Model (vv. 7-10)

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

Too many professing Christians today make excuses for willful and continuous sin against God, claiming “I’m not perfect,” but that is a lame excuse, and God doesn’t accept it. Certainly none of us lives in sinless perfection, though I know some people claim they do, but all of us should be walking (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God, and not according to our sinful flesh, if we are truly in Christ by faith in Him. So, in reality, if this is true, we should all be good examples of what it means to be a believer in Christ and to walk with integrity (truthfulness, honor, uprightness), which includes admitting wrong and repenting of sin when one does sin.

Grace of God (vv. 11-14)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Too many professing Christians and non-Christians, alike, are also confusing God’s grace with libertinism, i.e. the freedom to be “unrestrained by morality and indulging a variety of amorous impulses” (M-W). They see God’s grace as carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sinful practices, as though thinking that God’s grace just covers it all, and that God just looks down on them and smiles when they choose to keep sinning against him. But, that is not true.

Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await his return. Jesus did not die just to forgive us our sins, but he died to transform us! When we come to faith in him, we die with him to sin so that we might live with him to his holiness and righteousness, for this is why he died! So, give your lives to him today, and let him have HIS way now in your lives.

Lord, Move Me / An Original Work / October 16, 2011

Be my desire, my heart set on fire,
Lord, move me to worship You only, I pray.
Fill with Your Spirit, my heart overflow.
Lord, may I long for You; Your word to know.
Teach me to walk with You, Lord, in Your power,
And may I serve You, Lord, right now in this hour.

Lord, how I want to obey You forever.
Help me to hear You, Lord, so I will not stray.
Teach me to love You; adore You always.
Envelope me, Lord, with Your grace today.
Meet me in my need, and show me Your mercy.
Forgive me for all things, as I humbly pray.

Counsel me, lead me, direct me, and guide me,
So I follow You, Lord, where’er You lead now.
I love to hear You speak Your words to me.
I am so grateful that You set me free.
Wash me, and cleanse me, and make me like You, Lord,
And I will live with You for eternity.

Resources: (Not an endorsement of these sites)

(1) http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/doctrine/
(2) http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-doctrine/

 

My Portion

Saturday, September 2, 2017, 5:27 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 119:57-80 (NASB).

Heth (vv. 57-64)

The Lord is my portion;
I have promised to keep Your words.
I sought Your favor with all my heart;
Be gracious to me according to Your word.
I considered my ways
And turned my feet to Your testimonies.
I hastened and did not delay
To keep Your commandments.
The cords of the wicked have encircled me,
But I have not forgotten Your law.
At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You
Because of Your righteous ordinances.
I am a companion of all those who fear You,
And of those who keep Your precepts.
The earth is full of Your lovingkindness, O Lord;
Teach me Your statutes.

The Lord Jesus is my God, my treasure, my fortune, my future, my destiny, my purpose, and my sustenance for life, for all that I need and am and will be. Whether he provides me with much or with little of worldly goods, yet will I praise him and worship him. I will enjoy what he provides, and I will be a good steward of all that he gives me, but I will not make things my god. My life is not dependent on worldly possessions, but it is dependent on the Lord. He gives and he takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Because the Lord is my portion, and I find my life in him, and not in the pleasures of this world, I desire to keep his Words, for they are my delight! I love to sit with him each day and to listen to him speak tenderly his Words to my heart, and then to follow him wherever he leads me, and to do what he says. Because I love my Lord, I have turned my heart away from sinning against him, and I have turned my feet to walk in his ways and in his truth. Yet, this commitment is not without opposition, for we have an enemy of our souls whose goal it is to destroy us, so we find our strength in the Lord, and in his strength we press on, we persevere, and we don’t give up!

When we love our Lord, and our desire is for him, to serve him in all ways, we should love him more than our sleep. And, we should be willing to rise even at midnight to give him praise, or to pray for others, or to do whatever it is he would have us do, like writing out what he teaches us to share with others, for instance. And, he can make 4 hours of sleep feel like 8 hours of sleep when we are walking in obedience to him. He will give us all we need to follow him in surrender to his will for our lives. We just need to put our trust in him and not in our flesh, and let him teach us his ways, that we may walk in them. Lord, give me an undivided heart with which to praise you!

Teth (vv. 65-72)

You have dealt well with Your servant,
O Lord, according to Your word.
Teach me good discernment and knowledge,
For I believe in Your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.
You are good and do good;
Teach me Your statutes.
The arrogant have forged a lie against me;
With all my heart I will observe Your precepts.
Their heart is covered with fat,
But I delight in Your law.
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes.
The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Those whom the Lord loves he disciplines (trains, corrects, rebukes, scourges), and the discipline is often painful. He allows us to go through difficult times, and to face opposition, for our good (for what is best for us) so that we may share His holiness. For those of us who are being trained by it, it produces a harvest of righteousness in our lives (See: Heb. 12:1-13). It is good for us to be afflicted, at times, in order that we might learn obedience through what we suffer, as did Jesus, and he was sinless.

When we go through these trials, thus, we should not resent them or become bitter of spirit, for God is allowing them in our lives to mature us and to strengthen us in our faith, to humble us, and to make us more like Him; to prune and to purify us, and to teach us to rely on him and not on ourselves. When things are going too smoothly for us we may become lazy in our walks of faith or arrogant, or we may stray from our pure devotion to Jesus Christ to follow after the flesh, instead of to submit to the Spirit of God. So, his divine discipline is for our good, that we might grow in Him and become like him, that we might forsake sin and follow him in obedience.

Yet, when we walk in obedience to our Lord, we will face opposition from those who have chosen a more fleshly path to follow. Some of them will try to shame us into compromising our faith and convictions in order that we might appear more “normal,” and they will try to pressure us into blending in better with society. Or, they will try to convince us that we are too serious, and that we need to lighten up and take life more easy. Often when people are walking in ways they know are not right for them, they may have a tendency to want to bring others down with them, for the godly make them uncomfortable. So, this should not surprise us when this happens.

Yodh (vv. 73-80)

Your hands made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.
May those who fear You see me and be glad,
Because I wait for Your word.
I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
O may Your lovingkindness comfort me,
According to Your word to Your servant.
May Your compassion come to me that I may live,
For Your law is my delight.
May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie;
But I shall meditate on Your precepts.
May those who fear You turn to me,
Even those who know Your testimonies.
May my heart be blameless in Your statutes,
So that I will not be ashamed.

God created each one of us, and he created us for a purpose. His purpose for our lives, as believers in him, is that we should walk in his ways, and no longer to please our sinful flesh. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He gave his life up for us that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him. He didn’t save us just to give us an escape from hell and the hope of heaven when we die. His blood not only paid the price for our sins, but his blood bought us back for God, so we are to honor God with our lives, and not live to please ourselves.

My hope is that all who call themselves Christians would grasp these truths, for many are they who are lying to them, and who are convincing them that God requires nothing of them, and so they believe they don’t have to repent of their sins, and that they don’t have to obey Christ, but they are totally missing the point of why Jesus died, which was that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. His grace to us is not just to forgive us our sins, but it is to deliver us out of slavery (addiction) to sin. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return.

So, we need to reject the lies and believe and follow the truth. So, how do we do this? Well, first we need to know the truth, so we need to be in God’s Word and listening to what he says, and not buy into every message which sounds good in order to tickle itching ears. We must test what we hear against the Word of God to make certain that what we are hearing and believing is truth and that it is not based in lies and deception. Satan is very clever, and he uses clever enchanters to twist scripture to his advantage, so we have to be students of God’s Word so that we can discern errors and be certain of what is truth, so that we follow truth and not lies.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

Help in Trouble

Thursday, August 10, 2017, 2:32 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 46 (NASB).

God our Refuge (vv. 1-3)

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.

Life is full of changes. There are no guarantees that life, as we now know it, will continue. Our jobs could go away. Our spouses could die, or they could leave us for someone else. The stock market could crash, and we could experience another “Great Depression.” Our present form of government, as we understand it to be, could suddenly disappear, and in its place the beast (one world government) could rule supreme. Our houses could burn down to the ground. A hurricane could sweep our houses (or apartments) away, or so could a major earthquake or a tsunami. We could suddenly be struck very ill, or we could be involved in a serious automobile accident. Or, our nation could suddenly be attacked, once more, by a foreign nation (or entity).

Yet, in all of these things, and so much more, God is our refuge and strength to help us in times of trouble, if our hope and our trust is in him, and in his salvation. He is completely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made. He is all powerful, too. Nothing catches him by surprise, and there is not anything which he cannot handle. He will see us through any and all changes in our lives or in our circumstances. He may or may not remove us from our difficult situations, but he will give us the strength and courage we need to endure, to persevere, and to remain faithful to him in all things despite the difficulties we are experiencing in this present world of ours. So, we need to rest in him, trust in his grace, believe his promises, and carry on in Him.

Our Stronghold (vv. 4-7)

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

When difficult times come our way, which they will, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not be frightened in any way by the waves of the sea crashing in all around us. God’s presence is with us. He will never leave us or forsake us if we are truly his by faith in Jesus Christ. His grace is sufficient to help us in times of need. And, not only that, but God allows difficulties to come into our lives to purify us, to prune us, to make us holy, to conform us into his likeness, to revive us, and to mature us in our walks of faith, as well as to correct and rebuke us, if we have gone astray, so that we will turn from our sinful rebellion to walking in his holiness and righteousness.

We don’t ever have to be afraid of anything. Nothing can happen to us in this life but what God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose, and he will see us through it to victory. He will provide all that we need, but not necessarily all that we think we need, or all that we want. Especially here in America we have this idea that we need so much, but we don’t. We can survive on very little, in reality. We don’t need much food, either. Restaurants have been notorious for serving large portions of food, and to one person, which could probably feed an entire family in another country. But, we don’t need a lot of food, and, in fact, it is unhealthy to eat so much.

What comes to mind right now are the lyrics to the song “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” (by Henry F. Lyte):

Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou, from hence, my all shalt be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought, and hoped, and known;
Yet how rich is my condition, God and Christ are still my own!

Cease Striving (vv. 8-11)

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

Yet, it isn’t just that God allows troubles and hardships, but sometimes he is the one who brings them upon us. He is not only a God of mercy and grace, but he is a God of justice and righteousness. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, which is why he has delayed judgments, in many cases. Yet, he is a God who judges the people of the earth, too, and even his followers, and in order to bring those who have strayed from their pure devotion to him back to him as their Only Lord and Master. He warned of this in Revelation 2-3, among other passages of scripture. There he called his wandering saints (parts of his church) to repentance, and he warned of divine judgment if they did not repent.

God also judges nations and peoples who have come against his children, i.e. against those who have been born anew of the Spirit of God via death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ Jesus, their Lord. I believe much or all of the world is already under the judgment of God. I know that America is, and that what our nation (our government) has done to other nations, it will be done to us. And, what our nation has done to their own people, and to God’s laws, and to demoralize our nation, and to dilute the gospel message of salvation, God will judge, too. Yet, he will do this to stop all the evil, and so that the gospel message will go out to the ends of the earth before he returns for his bride, so that many more will be saved.

So, we are not to be anxious or worried or fearful when these things take place, but we are to put our trust in the Lord, and believe that he will work all things together for good for those who love him; for those who have been called according to his purpose. Instead of letting life’s difficulties get us down, we must recognize who God is, that he is God, and that he will be exalted (praised, revered) in the earth, and among the nations. He is still with us, he has not deserted us, and he is our stronghold. He will see us through to the end, and he will accomplish his purposes in all of our lives.

Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Adelaide A. Pollard / George C. Stebbins

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

A Believer’s Prayer

Coming to faith in Jesus Christ means so much more than just Jesus forgiving us of our sins so that we can go to heaven one day. When we trust Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, we give our whole heart and devotion to him to obey him, to forsake our former lives of sin, and to follow him wherever he leads. He said his sheep hear his voice, they listen, and they follow (obey) him. When we invite Jesus to be our Lord (owner-master), it means he is now the boss of our lives, but not just the boss of our lives, for he is our very best friend.

When he is truly our Lord and our Savior, our desire is for him to please him in all that we are, and do and say. We want to be his forever. We yearn to know him better, and to understand what his Word teaches us, so that we can follow him in truth and in obedience to him and to His Word. The fellowship we have with him each day in prayer and in his Word is unmatched by any other. No one else will ever love us like he does. We can always depend on him to lead, guide, protect, nurture and comfort us daily. He will never abandon us. He is completely faithful. And, one day he will come again to receive us to himself.

A Believer’s Prayer / An Original Work / July 31, 2012

With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.

Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.

Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.

But When…

Friday, June 30, 2017, 5:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When in The Stillness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Titus 3:1-11 (Select vv. ESV).

Every Good Work (vv. 1-2)

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

We are always to be in submission to rulers and authorities EXCEPT when they ask us to deny our Lord, disobey God’s Word, compromise scripture, stop speaking in Jesus’ name, or stop preaching the fullness of the gospel, or when they command us to bow to the beast or to false gods, or if they try to convince us to follow false teaching. And, we have to keep in mind here that all this may not be all that obvious. Satan is very subtle when he tries to convince us to deny our Lord, so if we don’t know the Word of God, and if we are easily persuaded, we might be convinced to compromise truth while being manipulated into believing we are doing good. So, be wise, be discerning, know the truth, and follow God’s Word, not men.

We are to be ready for every good work that is of God, or that is not in conflict with his perfect will for our lives. In other words, God used to chide his people because they gave sacrifices to him of their own choosing while they ignored his commands, and while they did what was wicked. In other words, God is not interested in our “good deeds” if they are apart from obedience to him, or while we are willfully continuing to sin against him by doing what is evil in his eyes. “Good” is what is right in God’s eyes, or what is in line with his will for our lives, so if we want to do “good deeds” we need to be walking in the Spirit, doing what pleases God, and seeking his will.

Regarding not speaking evil of anyone, it means “refusing to acknowledge good (worthy of respect, veneration); hence, to blaspheme which reverses moral values; to use abusive or scurrilous” (insulting) “language about” (1). This is not to say we cannot expose the fruitless deeds of darkness nor warn against those who are teaching what is false. Those who are false teachers, who are manipulating naïve minds, will use the Word of God in their favor and against those who are preaching the truth, by taking the Word out of context. They will do this to try to convince the naïve never to challenge what they teach, and this often results in people following cultish leaders. Yet, in all we do, we should be kind, considerate and not argumentative.

What We Were (v. 3)

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

We can become overly critical of others over things that don’t really matter, or excessively judgmental of others when they sin, when we forget God’s amazing grace in our own lives, and we overlook where we once were ourselves. Or, we may find ourselves judging others hypocritically over things we are guilty of doing ourselves, or we may be guilty of judging others harshly because of unforgiveness and bitterness of heart. Yet, there is a place and a time to judge sin in sinful humans, but it should be for the purpose to restore them to a right relationship with God, and to do so humbly, sincerely, lovingly, and gently (See: Jas. 5:20; Gal. 6:1).

According to His Mercy (vv. 4-7)

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Not only should we not lose sight of the reason why Jesus died on a cross, which was to save us out of our sins, because we were born into sin, but if we would keep his grace to us in mind, it should help us to be more loving, forgiving and kind toward others. The reason for this is that we did nothing to earn or deserve our own salvation. No works of our own flesh profited us anything towards gaining God’s grace. So, we have no reason to ever feel superior to anyone else, as though we did something to merit God’s grace. It was only because of God’s goodness to us that any of us can be delivered out of slavery to sin, and be set free to walk in holiness before our God.

Stirring up Dissension (vv. 9-11)

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Those who stir up division within the body of Christ are those who stir up conflict, disunity, opposition and/or rebellion in conflict with the Word of God, in opposition to God’s structure for the church (his body), or who are gossips, those who love to argue (for the sport of it), or those who revel in stirring up trouble in order to interrupt and distract from God’s holy work.

Now, the reality of this in today’s church, particularly here in America, is that those who are causing this division can be the pastors, elders, or other leaders within the church. They are dividing the church by leading their congregations to follow men over God, and by teaching what is in conflict with God’s Holy Word. And, those they accuse of being disunifiers are often those who are actually following and teaching the Word of God, the gospel of our salvation, in its fullness. Most often the calls for “unity” within the local church are calls for unity with man, and with man-made teaching and business (marketing) schemes, but that is in conflict with God’s Word.

So, we need to be very discerning about this, so that we don’t fall into error, because “unity” is a buzz word used both within the global government (New World Order), leading up to the rule of the beast, and within many localized church congregations being led by those who have bowed to this beast, or who are deceived and being led astray themselves. And, their goal is to lead people away from pure devotion to Jesus Christ, away from the pure Word of Truth, and to lead them to what is false – to a false gospel which gives a false hope of salvation to those who are still lost in their sins. So, beware!

When in The Stillness / An Original Work / September 26, 2011

When in the stillness of this moment,
Speak to me, Lord, I humbly pray.
Be my desire, set me on fire,
Teach me to love always.
Help me to walk in fellowship with You,
Listening to You; sit at Your feet.
Whisper Your words to me,
Oh, how gently, guiding me in Your truth.

While we are waiting for Your blessing,
Lord, in our hearts be King today.
Help us to live for you ev’ry moment,
List’ning to what You say.
May we not stray from your word within us,
Help us obey You, Lord, in all things,
Walking each moment, Lord, in Your presence,
Our offerings to You bring.

Help us to love You, Lord, our master;
Be an example of Your love,
Helping the hurting, lift up the fallen,
Showing them Your great love.
Teach them to love You, follow You always,
Bearing their cross and turning from sin;
Walking in daily fellowship with You,
Making You Lord and King.

Resources:

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/987.htm

Fellowship

Monday, June 26, 2017, 8:07 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “In Truth.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read selected scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of biblical spiritual fellowship.

What is Christian Fellowship?

From my own experience, I have found that this word “fellowship,” in many Christian circles here in America, is used often more in a secular sense rather than in a biblical sense. For instance, it is called “fellowship” when a group of people, who are connected via profession of faith in Jesus, or via participation with a local church organization, gather together for a social get-together which may or may not be affiliated with or sponsored by that local church organization. This social gathering may involve eating tons of food together, watching TV or movies together, playing games, shopping for non-necessities, or attending a sporting event, etc., and the name of Jesus may or may not even come up at all. Yet, they call it “Christian fellowship.”

So, to begin with I want to look at the definition of biblical (Christian and spiritual) “fellowship” (koinónia). It means “participation, communion, partnership, sharing in, communion; what is shared in common as the basis of fellowship (partnership, community)” (1). “Koinonia is being in agreement with one another, being united in purpose, and serving alongside each other. Our koinonia with each other is based on our common koinonia with Jesus Christ” (2). And, that last sentence here really is key to understanding true biblical (spiritual and Christian) fellowship.

Fellowship with Christ (1 Co. 1:9; Phil. 3:10)

“God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

“…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…”

So, if we are called into fellowship with Jesus Christ, and to share in the fellowship of his sufferings, what does that look like? It means we participate with Christ in death to sin and in being resurrected with him to newness of life in Christ Jesus, in the Spirit of God, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:24). It means we partner with Jesus Christ, that we are in agreement with him, that we are united with him in his purpose for our lives, and that we serve him faithfully. This means that we turn away from our sinful lifestyles, forsake our idols, and we turn to follow (obey) Jesus Christ with our lives. We also accept the fact that following Jesus in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives means we will be hated, rejected, persecuted and abandoned, just like he was.

Fellowship of the Spirit (Phil. 2:1-4)

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

When we trust Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, and we become his servants, bond-slaves to him and to his righteousness, his Holy Spirit comes to live within us, to empower, strengthen, counsel, teach and guide us in the way that we should go, so that we can live holy lives, pleasing to God. His will is the will of the Father and that of the Son, and that is that we live holy lives, set apart (unlike, different) from the world of sin because we are being made into the image of Christ. So, to be in fellowship with the Spirit is to agree with God, and to be united with him in his purpose for our lives, which is that we die with Christ to sin and that we live with Christ to his righteousness.

So, when we are united with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – likeminded in heart, mind and purpose, which is to walk in obedience to our Lord and to do his will, and to no longer walk according to our sinful flesh, then we can also be likeminded, united in purpose, and having the same (agape) love as other believers in Jesus who are also united with God in heart, mind and purpose. And, this should result in us not living to please ourselves, but God, and in us serving one another unselfishly. We should put others’ true needs above our own, and we should look out for what is in the best interest of others, i.e. regarding what they truly need, not necessarily regarding what they want. And, this involves laying our lives down in order to see others go free from slavery to sin, and to walk in holiness, righteousness and godliness, even if it means we are hated, persecuted and rejected in return.

Fellowship with One Another (Acts 2:42-47)

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

These believers in Jesus Christ, when they got together, continually devoted themselves to the teaching of the Word of God, and to remembering what Jesus Christ did for them in dying for their sins, and in rising from the dead. They were devoted to sharing meals together, and to prayer (talking with and listening to their Lord). They witnessed many miracles of God in their midst, and they shared with one another as they had need. Day by day they met together, continuing with one mind, which was the mind of Christ, and giving thanks to God/Jesus and praising Him, and the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Their fellowship was based in Jesus Christ, not in the flesh of humans, and it was centered on God’s will for their lives, learning from him, and sharing his love and grace with others. And, the result was that many came to faith in Jesus Christ. It was not about being entertained, but it was about sharing in Jesus Christ and in his saving grace to us, loving him, and loving others.

Fellowship with Darkness (2 Co. 6:14)

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?

It is not Christian fellowship if we are united with, in agreement with, in partnership with or we participate with those who are walking in darkness (sin, wickedness) in their wicked (sinful) deeds. It is also not Christian fellowship if we unite (agree with) the world (worldliness) via ungodly activities we participate in, sinful attitudes and behaviors we adopt as part of our lives, or via unholy and wicked scenarios we regularly feed into our minds via TV, movies, the internet, books, magazines, and the like. In other words, don’t call it Christian fellowship if Christ has no part in it, if he is opposed to what we are doing, and if what we are doing stands in opposition to his will for our lives or his teachings (or those of the NT apostles).

For example, if when we gather together for what we call “Christian fellowship,” but Jesus Christ is not even included in what we do, nor would he want to be, then it isn’t “Christian fellowship,” but it is worldly, fleshly and/or it is darkness – unrighteousness and ungodliness. And, that has no communion (no fellowship or partnership) with what is light (truth, righteousness, holiness, godliness, etc.). So, we are not to participate in what is darkness, but we are to have fellowship with what is light. For, the two do not mix. And, we should not try to mix them, either. True fellowship begins with God, with being likeminded with him in following his will and his ways, and it is based in Jesus, and in the Word of God, and not in the will of humans or in the passions and desires of our sinful flesh.

Fellowship with God (1 Jn. 1:5-7)

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

And, here is the crux of the matter. If we say we have fellowship (agreement, like-mindedness, and unity of purpose) with God, but we conduct (live) our lives to please our sinful flesh, instead, we are liars. If we call what we do with others “Christian fellowship” but everything we do with them has nothing to do with Christ or his eternal kingdom, but everything to do with selfish pleasure and entertainment, we are liars, or we are fooling ourselves. True fellowship with Christ or true Christian fellowship with others is about walking in the light (truth, righteousness), pleasing God, serving others, and it is about following Christ and his Word, and sharing it with others so they can come to know Jesus Christ and his salvation, too.

So, if we want to have true fellowship with Christ and with others, we need to walk (conduct our lives) in the light (truth, righteousness). And, we need to no longer live to gratify our sinful cravings and passions. It is important that we realize that God’s grace to us is not solely for the purpose to deliver us from hell and to promise us heaven when we leave this earth. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. If we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. God’s grace is not free license to continue in willful sin against God. But his grace instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return.

(See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Jn. 6:35-66; Acts 26:16-18; Gal. 5:19-21; & Tit. 2:11-14).

In Truth / An Original Work / January 10, 2012

Fellowshipping with my Lord, Savior, King.
He is Lord of all; Lord of ev’rything.
He is with me through ev’ry hour of day,
List’ning to me speak, as I humbly pray.
He cares for my needs,
and He intercedes for me,
‘cause He loves me in ev’ry way.

Obey His commands, and do all He says.
Sitting at His feet, daily in His word,
Let His word speak to me in ev’ry way,
Giving comfort and healing through each day.
Oh, how Jesus loves,
And He cares for you,
Which is why He died for our sins, in truth.

Love our Lord God, Savior, and King of kings.
Worship Him in truth, for He reigns supreme.
He created us with a plan in mind
For us to be His servants, and Him mind.
Follow Him in truth;
Go where’er He leads.
Share His love with others, and their needs meet.
Others: their needs meet.

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/2842.htm
(2) http://www.gotquestions.org/koinonia.html#ixzz387XFegim